NWPC Blog

The Importance of Staying Active During the Winter Months

We know how hard it can be to maintain your exercise routine in the winter, particularly for those without a gym membership. With fewer daylight hours, cold temperatures, and the ever-present drizzle of the Pacific Northwest, it’s easy to forget the importance of staying active in the winter. 

What are the benefits of staying active in the winter? “The advantages of regular exercise are too great to be put on hold when workouts become inconvenient, especially during colder, winter months,” explains Joseph Giaimo, DO, an osteopathic board-certified internal medicine physician. “In fact, regular workouts will improve your mood, increase your energy level and help you sleep better at night.”

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER

Come early fall, many people find themselves experiencing some degree of seasonal depression that often leads to reduced levels of exercise. However, staying active during colder periods is shown to combat the negative effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Try to include 30-minutes of brisk activity to your day or adding 10-minute workouts to your routine during the winter. Doing this could fight off symptoms like fatigue, depression, and many other signs associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Below are a few practical ways to stay active in the winter and reduce the symptoms of Season Affective Disorder recommended by our Portland physicians. 

BRING YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE INDOORS BY USING YOUR SMARTPHONE

During the cold and dark months, consider bringing your workout routine indoors. It’s easier to convince yourself to work out in the warmth and brightness of your home or office. Don’t have access to a gym? Don’t sweat it. There are plenty of smartphone apps available like Sworkit, Nike Training Club, and others that provide full-body workout regimens that are easy to do indoors. If you don’t want to use an app, sit-ups, push-ups, planks, high knees, calf raises, and crunches are easy workouts you can do from home in brief intervals. 

GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR WINTER WORKOUTS

Staying active in the winter doesn’t mean you have to commit yourself exclusively to high-intensity training programs that keep you at home. Taking a stroll to the farmers market or experiencing the Portland Night Market are easy ways to get in some light cardio. Traditional winter activities like ice skating and hockey, and indoor sports such as basketball, tennis, and dancing are other high-calorie burning workouts you may enjoy. These are also great winter activities to do with friends, which may encourage more commitment to your winter fitness routine as a group. 

RESTORATIVE ACTIVITIES SOOTH SYMPTOMS OF SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER

Looking for a more meditative way to stay fit in the winter and ward off symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder? You may want to use the colder months to focus on restorative activities that are gentle on the body compared to running or other activities. Yoga, tai chi, and qigong can build strength, increase flexibility, and help you relax, all while improving balance and refreshing your energy levels that increase serotonin.

REMEMBER, ANY ACTIVITY COUNTS IN THE WINTER 

Count any activity that gets your heart rate up and cut yourself some slack during the colder seasons. Try power-shopping by walking through the store at a quick pace while running errands or doing squats while folding laundry in your free time. Other active household chores such as mopping the floors and raking leaves can also count toward your daily goals. The important part is that you are trying to stay active throughout the year, which will improve your mood. 

WHAT TO WEAR WHEN WORKING OUT IN THE COLD

When you want to go outside for your workout, be sure to dress for the weather appropriately. Layering is essential to protecting yourself from the elements while allowing your skin to breathe and sweat. Additionally, remember that you lose 90% of your body heat through your head, so wear a hat when temperatures dip. If it’s dark outside, be sure to wear reflective gear and carry a light. Surfaces may be more slippery than usual, so be sure to don sturdy shoes with good traction.

NWPC WANTS TO HELP YOU STAY ACTIVE THIS WINTER

The winter months can be a challenge for keeping up your exercise routines, but they don’t have to be. With a little creativity and determination, spring will return, and you can go back to your outdoor workout routines when it warms up again. Have additional questions around staying fit in the winter? Northwest Primary Care is here to help you with your fitness and health goals. Contact us for assistance with nutritional counseling, weight loss support, and general health inquiries.